Credit: EJ Carr/CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Barbara Nitke/CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Lorenzo Bevilaqua/CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

On July 3, 2006, the body of As the World Turns leading man Benjamin Hendrickson was found at his home on Long Island with a gunshot wound to the head. He was only 55 years old.

“Those of us that knew him deeply were not shocked,” Colleen Zenk told We Love Soaps in 2010. And having played Benjamin Hendrickson’s on-again/off-again wife Barbara Ryan on As the World Turns for years, she was among that small group. “We were just horribly sad that this is where it went and this is where it came to.”

Hendrickson, who had spent two decades breathing life into Oakdale’s chief of detectives Hal Munson, had fought a long battle with depression — one that a week before his passing, he confided in his nephew he wasn’t sure that he was winning. “He was being very fatherly to me,” Stephen Hendrickson Jr. told People following his uncle’s death. “Then he said, ‘Stevie, this is a real bad one.

“[But] we didn’t know this was going to happen,” Stephen added.

Benjamin Hendrickson emmy unsized am 30th Daytime Emmy Awards PressroomRadio City Music HallNew York City5/16/03©Aaron Montgomery/JPI310-657-9661

When Hendrickson won the Outstanding Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy in 2003, he wittily dedicated it to his mother, “who scrimped and saved to send me to Juilliard to study the classics… I’m sorry.” That same year, he took a leave of absence from the soap to care for her in her final days.

“He was very gentle,” said Kelley Menighan, who played another of Hendrickson’s As the World Turns wives, Emily Stewart. “He felt things much deeper — the good and the bad — than most of us.”

More: Remembering the leading man taken from us by AIDS

Concluded Zenk: “The one thing Benjamin never really understood was how loved he really was — by everybody. He was his own worst critic. He was very hard on himself.”

If only he could see that he is still remembered, still missed… On this somber occasion, cheer up if you can by perusing the below photo gallery full of memories of As the World Turns’ spectacular run on CBS.